THE troubled Twin Sails Bridge broke down for the third time in a fortnight – barely three hours after Poole Bridge shut for repairs.

Drivers were left fuming when the crossing – which recently passed its first anniversary – stopped working yesterday lunchtime. Traffic quickly built up back to the Hunger Hill roundabout and an ambulance with blue lights flashing was forced to do a U-turn.

See how the saga unfolded with our live blog from yesterday

Sheila Danks from Corfe Mullen was travelling with her husband from the Poole side of the Twin Sails Bridge when it became stuck around 1.20pm.

“We were actually queuing in our car to get across as the bridge was down,” said Mrs Danks. “But then we saw it raise and get stuck – it got no higher than about a foot or so.

"There was an ambulance next to us, with its lights flashing, waiting for the bridge to go up. Unfortunately, the ambulance had to reverse. It must have had to go all the way around Holes Bay and through Upton just to get to where it was going. If someone was having a heart attack what would they do?”

A South Western Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The ambulance was on a call to Hamworthy. Another ambulance was dispatched. Patient care was not affected.”

Poole Bridge, which was closed to traffic around 10.30am for a 10-day maintenance programme, was re-opened to allow pedestrians and cyclists across, as the problem with the £21.6million Twin Sails Bridge stretched over an hour and a half.

Engineers had been testing the hydraulics, in the hope of being able to refurbish a faulty valve. Last weekend a second problem with software caused the bridge to be out of action for around 22 hours.

A Borough of Poole spokesman said: “It was out of action for a short time this afternoon following a hydraulics problem during a scheduled lift.

“The council has contingency plans in place whereby should the Twin Sails Bridge be out of action for a period of time, then the maintenance works currently being undertaken on Poole Bridge would be temporarily suspended allowing it to be reopened.”

Andy Brignell from Sydenhams in Blandford Road, Hamworthy said: “They’ve just handed over the contract to Poole council and ever since then it keeps breaking down. It’s good isn’t it?”

Engineers attempted to re-align the lifting sections and one leaf at a time was lowered and raised.

Poole mum-of-two Heather Grice who lives at Creekmoor said half the parents usually at the gates of Hamworthy First School were not there because of the problems. Her usual five-minute journey took 40 minutes.

Alison Manners, who works at Brittany Ferries turned round and drove seven miles round Holes Bay Road, to get back to work after staring at the broken bridge for half an hour. “It’s a load of rubbish,” she said. “I only popped into Poole to pick something up.”

Outreach worker Alix Digby, who lives in Hamworthy, was among those stuck on the wrong side of the Back Water Channel. “What I find absolutely incredible is the fact the bridge was closed for hours with two different problems in the last two weeks and they have still gone ahead with maintenance on Poole Bridge.”

Sally Gautier was held up on her way home from work at McColl’s in Poole bus station to Hamworthy.

“It’s a bit of a headache. I walk over it near enough every day and this is the first time I have been stuck by it. My timings have been quite good. I have been lucky,” she said.